Hilao v. Estate of Marcos

103 F.3d 767 (1996)

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Hilao v. Estate of Marcos

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
103 F.3d 767 (1996)

Facts

A jury found that the estate of Ferdinand Marcos (estate) (defendant) was liable to a class of 10,000 Philippine nationals (plaintiffs) who disappeared or who had been tortured or summarily executed by the Philippine military while Marcos ruled the Philippines. The class was divided into three subclasses for the three injuries: disappearance, torture, and execution. In order to determine the validity of the 10,000 claims and the compensatory damages due to each class member, the district court appointed a statistics expert as a special master to conduct a statistical adjudication of each class member’s claim. The special master randomly selected 137 claimants, stating that this sample number was 95 percent likely to accurately reflect the claims of the entire class. These 137 claimants provided depositions and other information to substantiate their claims and damages. After reviewing the information, the special master determined that six claims, or approximately 5 percent of the sample group, were invalid. The special master used the sample information to assign an average dollar amount for the damages suffered by each subclass. This average amount was then reduced to account for the probability that 5 percent of the totality of claims filed, not just the sampled ones, were invalid. The special master’s findings were presented to a jury to determine the class’s actual compensatory damages. The jury found that only two of the sample claims were actually invalid but otherwise generally adopted the statistical findings as the compensatory damages for each class member. The district court entered the jury’s award as a final judgment. The estate appealed the judgment to the Ninth Circuit, arguing that the court’s use of statistical adjudication to determine the class’s compensatory damages had deprived it of due process.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Fletcher, J.)

Concurrence/Dissent (Rymer, J.)

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